A while back a patient who was attending one of my lectures asked me to talk about my personal “Journey,” living with Hashimoto’s disease (a condition caused by an autoimmune attack on the thyroid gland). At first I was taken aback because I don’t typically think of my experience as a “journey,” but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that doctors don’t often share with their patients what they do to heal themselves. For instance, you almost never hear what doctors do about their personal diabetes control or about their personal bouts of gallstone attacks or of their preferred method of dealing with low back pain.
I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease (when the immune system attacks and slowly kills the cells of the thyroid gland) in 2005, following an extremely stressful time in my life. You see, stress, whether from a new job, from not getting enough sleep, or from dealing with a damaged relationship is all the same to the body. If you have inherited a gene that makes you susceptible to Hashimoto’s, this stress may turn the gene on, and from that point on, your immune system will classify your thyroid as a foreign object and will continue to try very hard to destroy it. This will then decrease the amount of thyroxin (T4) the thyroid produces. Unfortunately, even though the medication returns the T4 levels to normal, your body may still not be functioning normally. In fact, most of the patients I treat are in this situation. Their lab values look good but their symptoms of fatigue, brain fog, hair loss, depression, sleep disturbance, and gut symptoms do not return to normal and they usually get worse.
Stress Reduction: The first thing I realized was that I had to get the stress under control. After all, if stress caused this condition, then stress could make it worse and worse. So I decided that I was going to meditate seriously from now on in order to help put my life in proper perspective, and I also committed to be consistent with my four days a week work-out routine.
Immune Management: Next, since Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune condition and not an actual thyroid problem, I set out to keep my immune system from going overboard. I reviewed my recent lab results and used this information to develop a specific nutrition and supplement plan to manage my immune system and keep it from becoming over-reactive.
The Plan: For me, the plan turned out to be an anti-inflammatory and liver detox diet, supplements that help modulate the T helper cells that control the immune systems attack cells, and herbs that help decrease inflammation. I also added other supplements that help the immune system get back in balance like Vitamin D, plenty of omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants.
In my case, there were some other items that needed attention like irritable bowel syndrome, and a tendency toward hypoglycemia. I hadn’t really taken these conditions seriously until I really had to. This apparently was the time I “had to.” I added probiotics for my gut, which as it turned out, was a major contributor to resolving the inflammatory issues that had resulted in back pain and had shown up on my lab results. I also included botanicals that support healthy blood sugar and insulin control.
The Results: It took some time to sort out, but the results for me personally were phenomenal. Not only did the thyroid lab values return to normal, but my irritable bowel is well-controlled and I no longer experience sugar surges or the various pains that accompany inflammation.
I know that there are many of you who have similar challenges and just don’t know where to turn. I suggest that you develop (with the help of your doctor) a specific plan like I did that is based on your individual physiology, lab tests and personal history, and then GO FOR IT!
Dr. Don Davis, D.C., DACNB is a BOARD CERTIFIED CHIROPRACTIC NEUROLOGIST in Walnut Creek and has been serving individuals with chronic pain for 30 years. For information about how you can get a free consultation with Dr. Davis, call (925) 279-4325 (HEAL). Visit us at WalnutCreekThyroidInstitute.com